Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Michael Ryan's concept art for the New Excalibur Meggan that never was...

It's been quite a while since I even thought of Chris Claremont's New Excalibur. I have reread it once since it was first published, and much as though it was a series which got a lot of stick at the time for its cast choices and story logic I must admit to still having a certain fondness for it.

Yes, it wasn't quite the Excalibur that most people had hoped for, but ultimately I do still believe that before a series of unfortunate results derailed it Claremont had a very distinctive plan for the book. Those early issues actually read pretty well, and the Hellfire Club strands he was bringing over to the book (from similar ongoing plots in his Uncanny X-Men and Xtreme X-Men runs) actually showed a lot of promise.

For those who may have forgotten, the regular artist for the first year of the book was Michael Ryan. I had previously known of his work from his tenure on Bob Weinberg's Cable run (Which still remains my own personal favourite run of Cable's original series) where he did some great work. Art Deco style future landscapes. Those three creepy sisters. Cable reuniting with his 'sister' Rachael Summers.

In particular I was always impressed by how he drew long-haired female characters, that art deco styling very much in play. Something I was looking forward to seeing applied on New Excalibur. Especially on Dazzler, for example. Or Meggan Braddock (née Puceanu).

Of course, when New Excalibur kicked of, that wasn't ever the case. All the female characters on that book very much had short hair (I can still recall the Dazzler fans screaming blue murder about that. No. Really.) and Meggan wasn't on the team, having been sucked off into another dimension at the end of House of M. We would eventually see her return to the Marvel Universe during Paul Cornell's Captain Britain & MI13 but it was certainly intended to have happened sooner. It's going back a while, but I certainly do remember X-Men Editor Nick Lowe having mentioned in an interview online that the intention had always been to bring her back onto New Excalibur, while the series was still going. They just ran out of time.

But he did then offer up some Michael Ryan concept art.

While clearing out my old PC the other week (A machine which only boots one time in five, but which I've kept around purely because it holds our Master iTunes library) I came across that image, remembering that back in 2008 I had intended to post it up. Better late than never, eh?

I actually really like this design. At the time Meggan was a character who had really been stuck in that same leotard for most of her existence in American comics. A change was long overdue. Ryan's redesign here stays true to the essence of her classic costume, but gives her a bit more individuality. The boots and the almost frock coat like central part of the costume also finally makes her look a bit more grown-up. Too many writers seem to want to keep Meggan as this odd, naive child from Claremont's original Excalibur run; a phase she grew out of quite some time ago, now. 

I also kinda like the Celtic braids. 

Sure, I also like how Meggan turned out as Gloriana in Captain Britain & MI13, for different reasons, but if this is how she'd turned out back in 2007 I'd have been more than happy.

This weekend, for the mindless fun of it, I decided to try and see how this design might actually look following the suggested notes for colouring on Ryan's design. Here's what I came up with.

Firstly in a more traditional green and yellow:

And in the also suggested green and white:

I actually find myself preferring the white, to a degree. Green and yellow are much more 'Meggan's colours', but I don't know....

Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments field.

Could New Excalibur have done with a shapeshifter on their roster? Well, it wouldn't have harmed them. What could have been...


  1. New Excalibur had potential, it was moving towards something interesting in the early books, but then went off the rails badly.

    It was fun to see the Cast interact, ESP the stuff with Juggernaunt which took a more interesting tone than the Austin books had. Nosturne was another fav.

    Britain looked like Britain rather than a picture postcard version, and London ESP didn't come across as a US city.

    A shame it derailed really- coulda be a contender!

  2. like you prefer the green and white and remember the new excalibur fondly the hellfire club arc was especially memorable its a shame the series deteriated the way it did

  3. Hi Ogrebear,

    I'll always have a certain fondness for that series, and I completely agree with potential it seemed to have. Editorial changes were partly to blame, from Claremont's comments over at ComiXfan, if I recall rightly. Chris Claremont's time off through ill health also didn't help. You got the feeling that by the time he returned Marvel might already have made their decision to cancel.

    I know that many folks hated having Cain Marko as a hero. The 'Huggernaut' tag was banded about online, frequently. But his inclusion on the team was a clear and logical one from a plot point of view. Cain had ties to Britain and Ireland. Alongside Black Tom the two had quite plausibly been involved in a number of scams, schemes and criminal deals during their time as a duo resident in Ireland. And Cain HAD been imprisoned at Crossmoor, before being broken out by The Vixen during the original Excalibur. There was plenty to explore there. I had always hoped that, having had Cain pardoned of his crimes to get him ON Excalibur, Pete Wisdom might have sought to get him brought back to serve MI13 at some point.

    Nocturne was a bit of an odd one. She certanly didn't quite feel like her eXiles self, but I liked having her there. Nightcrawler certainly wasn't available, and with the strong connections to alternate universe brought along by Captain Britain it kinda made sense. She also knew (Having worked along side him) that Longshot was still alive. Something Dazzler certainly didn't realise. Something that really SHOULD have come up in conversation on the book at some point, but sadly didn't.

    London actually looking like London was a real credit to Michael Ryan. He had clearly done his homework. From interiors to covers he did a very credible job, there. Just a shame that fill in artists didn't quite have the same knack for it.

    Hi Steve,

    Yeah, I just think the white and green sits better. Shame we never got to see her. There were rumours flying around at about the time they put out 'X-Men: Die by the Sword' (The New Excalibur/eXiles crossover mini) that the newly introduced (And totally unexplained) villain 'Rouge Mort' might have been intended to be Meggan behind the mask. It seems like a plausible Claremont twist. But it was never made canon, or confirmed by Claremont to be the case as far as I know. Luckily.

    I'm quite happy with what we got in Captain Britain & MI13, in the end. Just a shame we never got to see that progress further.

  4. hey
    like we said at the time shame marvel gave up on mi13 tho has been good seeing pete in gambit would like to know how the braddock academy mentioned in avengers arena ties into brian and the whole captain britain mythos
    do miss excalibur as the writers had a good handle on britain as a whole especially the more mystical aspects of our culture so the stories could be diverse and not just be super hero v super villain

    1. Indeed.

      I'm curious about Braddock Academy, myself. I've resisted posting anything up, so far, because I'm waiting for a finite link to Brian. But it looks promising.

      I believe that James Asmus has said that he intends more guest appearances for Wisdom in coming issues of Gambit. So keep an eye out.